Eating fruits and vegetables regularly could reduce depression, study finds

An apple a day to ward off the blues? Eating more fruit could help reduce depression and fewer crisps could reduce anxiety, study finds

  • Researchers from Aston University of Birmingham interviewed nearly 430 adults
  • People who eat fruit up to five times a day are less likely to suffer from depression
  • Eating crisps more regularly for snacks was associated with more anxiety

Eating an apple a day could help ward off the blues, if research is to be believed.

Researchers surveyed nearly 430 adults to see how their eating habits affected their mental health.

People who ate the recommended five fruits each day were less likely to be depressed, according to the results.

Meanwhile, the reverse was true for people who liked to snack on chips. However, no such link was found for vegetable consumption.

The authors claimed that the positive benefits of the fruits could be caused by the way people eat them raw.

Vital antioxidants, fiber and micronutrients important for brain function can be lost as part of the cooking process.

Lead author PhD student Nicola-Jayne Tuck, from Aston University Birmingham, said: “Changing what we snack on may be a very simple and easy way to improve our mental well-being.

Regular fruit eaters are less likely to suffer from depression and have better psychological well-being, according to a study published today

“Overall, definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl.”

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutritionused a questionnaire with 428 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 60.

They were all asked how many times a day they ate fruits and vegetables, ranging from never to at least five.

Participants were also asked how often they consumed sugary (like chocolate bars or donuts) or salty processed snacks (like crisps).

The questionnaire also asked them to rate how happy, sad, anxious, alert, sleepy, withdrawn or hungry they were.

And they were asked questions to determine their levels of depression, anxiety and general psychological well-being.

The researchers took into account their age, sex, body weight, physical activity, general health and alcohol consumption.

Fruit consumption was strongly linked to lower depression and higher mental well-being scores.

Eating more salty snacks was linked to higher levels of anxiety, as well as ‘daily mental lapses’.

The team didn’t suggest how much fruit to eat to see mental health improvements, nor did they advise a maximum on how many crisps you should eat.

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET RESULT IN?

Meals should be potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS

Meals should be potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count

• Meals based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starches, ideally whole grains

• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following foods: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-grain crackers, 2 thick slices of whole-grain bread, and a large baked potato with the skin on.

• Having dairy products or dairy alternatives (like soy beverages) choosing low fat and low sugar options

• Eat beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which should be fatty)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small amounts

• Drink 6 to 8 cups/glasses of water per day

• Adults should consume less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide

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